Dascha Polanco
photo: Splash News

Before Dascha Polanco scored the part of Dayanara Diaz on "Orange Is the New Black" and become the rule-breaking style icon we worship, she was simply Dash — the confident, flirty Domincana from Brooklyn, New York.

(And we mean that quite literally — earlier this month, Polanco revealed to Vivala that people used to call her "coqueta" when she was younger. "It’s because I’ve always been a coqueta since I was little," Polanco joked. "I don’t know why! It’s just how I come off. I’m not flirting with you – I just come off that way.”)

It was Polanco's "OITNB" role that catapulted her to fame, but here are 20 throwback photos that prove Polanco was always meant to be a superstar.


Polanco was born in the Dominican Republic in 1982.

Dascha Polanco as a kid
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

She's a total '80s baby — let this photo serve as proof.


But she was raised in Brooklyn.

Dascha Polanco as a kid
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

You can take the girl out of the DR, but that bold attitude is forever.

"I was born with it, this face forevah," Polanco joked on Instagram. "Mood: Pero, why?"


Her character on "Orange Is The New Black" is (usually) soft-spoken and calm, but Polanco and her younger siblings were moñitos IRL.

Dascha Polanco and her siblings
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Three moñitos all day," Polanco wrote, adding the hilarious hashtag #yesplasticcovercouch


She shared an unbreakable bond with her little brother and sister.

Dascha Polanco's siblings
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"From the same womb till eternity and beyond," Polanco captioned this snapshot. "Love them."


Polanco and her sister, Jaiey, *definitely* developed their own personal style at a young age.

Dascha Polanco as a kid
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

Those prints!



Dascha Polanco as a kid
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

Also, check out their handsome dad.

"Daddy looking like a stud," Polanco noted, adding the LOL-worthy hashtag #myfatassaintwanttostandup.


Her father always supported and encouraged his baby.

Dascha Polanco
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Papi te amo!" Polanco captioned this throwback collage. "My father, I will always love you. No matter what I always have ur back."


*Begs to join the Polanco squad*

Dascha Polanco as a kid
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Cuando mi papi esta en sus sentimientos!" she wrote. 


As a teen, Polanco loved to experiment with her hair. She added red streaks...

Dascha Polanco as a teenager
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Hair is so empowering," Dascha captioned this throwback. "My hair has stories to tell! I miss my curls ... My curls were serious. My mami took good care of it."


...and tried out these incredible curly bangs.

Dascha Polanco throwback photos
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Stair case chill," Polanco wrote.


Polanco rocked her curls for her yearbook photo.

Dascha Polanco yearbook photo
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

Ah, those were the days!


(But lemurs were probably her best look)

Dascha Polanco TBT
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"I was truly happy but nervous as heck," Polanco recalled.


Polanco's thin brows and acrylic nails were SO adorably '90s.

Dascha Polanco before she was famous
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

 "With my marble tips!" she wrote, noting that her 17-year-old skin was "looking fab."


There's no denying that Polaco was a true city girl.

Dascha Polanco throwback
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

Her taste for fearless fashion is a dead giveaway.


But Coney Island wasn't exactly her favorite place in the world...

Dascha Polanco as a kid
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"I really did not like go around rides," Polanco laughed with Insta followers, using the hashtags #redvinylshorts #brooklyn #coneyisland #mymeanmuggin and #cranky. "Still don't."


Before she was slaying naked dresses on the red carpet, Polanco was wearing white gowns to her school dances.

Dascha Polanco in high school
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

From white prom dresses to sheer white body suits, Polanco has always said #FuckFlattering


Polanco had confidence for days.

Dascha Polanco as a teenager before she was famous
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

Don't mess with Dash!


She loved to layer her clothes like a #Boss.

Dascha Polanco instagram
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Yes a leotard...," Polanco joked on Instagram.


And her obsession with crop tops and cutouts started young.

Dascha Polanco
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

"Self Made Baby," Polanco insisted.


Yes, Dash was born to be a star.

Dascha Polanco before she was famous
photo: Instagram/@sheisdash

Polanco's undeniable #SelfLovery has radiated since Day One.